The Iceland Ocean Cluster’s mission is to create value and discover new opportunities by connecting entrepreneurs, businesses and knowledge in the marine industries.

The Iceland Ocean Cluster celebrates 10 years

Press release May 23. 2021

The IOC is celebrating its 10th anniversary on May 24. The IOC has been an active accelerator and investor in the blue economy. The IOCs focus has always been on building collaborative networks between industry, R&D, startups and investors. This cross pollination has created tremendous value for the ocean economy of Iceland. 

The Ocean Cluster House in the Reykjavik harbor is the innovation incubator of the IOC providing space for startup companies in seafood or whatever else the ocean provides. This ecosystem has received various rewards for creating a community of entrepreneurs determined to maximise value from the seafood industry; an industry which was previously not known to be a dynamic hub for startups.

The IOC has functioned as a spin off factory where the cluster has often taken an active role as an investor in new startups. These startups have since become leaders in areas such as ocean proteins, coworking space, education and food halls.  

The cluster has also expanded its network by opening five sister clusters in the US. The IOC cluster model has also been used as a prototype by new ocean clusters in South America, Europe and the Pacific. The first coworking space outside of Iceland, The New England Ocean Cluster House in Portland Maine, opened its doors in 2020 and has been very well received.

The IOCs list of successes in the last decade consists of 150% growth in blue startups in Iceland and fast expanding network of global ocean clusters. Increasing interest among young people and -entrepreneurs in the blue economy in Iceland. Five of the most successful startups from the IOC ecosystem are now worth 600 million usd.

The IOC has set the agenda for the next decade and the four main themes are the following:

take bold steps in the circular seafood economy; to inspire and train global fisheries to do more with less.

to coach and nurture a large number of blue startups both domestically and internationally.

use all necessary steps to safeguard the ocean environment in our arctic region

assist other countries in building ocean ecosystems in harbors worldwide through the establishment of ocean clusters.

We are looking forward to continuing to be a world leading cluster and accelerator in seafood.

For further information please contact Dr. Thor Sigfusson founder and chairman of The Iceland Ocean Cluster (thor@oceancluster.is)

150% growth in startups

New analysis by the Iceland Ocean Cluster shows 150% increase in the number of blue startups in Iceland between 2011 and 2021.  The analysis indicates growth in nutraceutical and various health products from the ocean, seaweed startups, food tech and other food related startups, fish farms and ocean environment. We need more marine biotechs but their numbers have not increased as much as we would have liked. Due to high demand for engineers among the few and fast growing food processing tech companies, it seems as number of startups in that field have slowed.

Cooling equipment experiment in Sierra Leone’s fishing boats

The icelandic company Ocean Excellence is one of the first spinoffs from the Iceland Ocean Cluster. The company is a collaboration between Samey, tech company, Mannvit, engineering company,and Haustak, fish drying factory, led by The Iceland Ocean Cluster and Mr. Páll Gíslason, an engineer, led to a new and exciting new cooling method on board small boats in developing countries.

Ocean Excellence ehf. has received a two million ISK pre-exploration grant from the MFA´s Sustainable Developmet Goal Fund for refrigeration equipment´s experiments in Sierra Leon´s fishing boats. Cooling is a key element in maintaining maximum quality throughout the value chain, from the time a fish is pulled from the sea until it reaches the consumer’s table.

In most developing countries, a large part of the catch of coastal fisheries is lost or damaged due to a lack of cooling, and as a result, great value is lost. The project of Ocean Excellence ehf. has the goal of solving this problem throughout the value chain, but the project initially focuses on its first stage, the cooling on board boats and on landing sites.

A solar-powered heat pump for cooling salt water can be placed in a simple plastic tub, according to Dr. Thór Sigfússon, Chairman of the Board of Ocean Excellence ehf. “The equipment is intended, among other things, for use where conditions or weak infrastructure prevent the cooling of fish in a traditional way. This is the case, for example, in Sierra Leone, but the technology improves both the utilization and value of the fish products,” he says, adding that the project is being carried out in collaboration with the World Bank and the West Africa Regional Fisheries Programme.

The project supports the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in a number of ways, including climate action by reducing carbon footprints, better access to natural resources, innovation, the fight against hunger and poverty, and the promotion of equality.

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